Remember Me by Trezza Azzopardi

28 Feb

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Homeless and squatting in a house in England, Patricia is shocked when a girl enters her house and takes the only possessions that she has: a suitcase containing a wig and various other bits of nick knacks and mementoes that one collects through out life.

To Patricia, they are her possessions, her belongings and items with which she has marked her life. Being forced to get her belongings back also forces Patricia to look back on her life up until her suitcase was stolen.

How, for instance, did she end up as a street walker when she had her whole life ahead of her? We are taken along on Patricia’s trip as she moves back and forth between the past and present, so that we see both sides of her. What she was and what she is now. Born in the 1930’s, Patricia’s mother is taken by “ghosts.”

Mentally unwell, her father sells all the family heirlooms to help pay for her mother’s medication. When her mother dies, Patricia is sent to live with her grandfather. Soon after, her father stops visiting. Life with her grandfather goes well enough until Patricia is sent to her aunts, where things are supposedly better and the depression has not reached as far. When Patricia becomes pregnant, she is sent back to her grandfathers in disgrace, only to find the house he use to live in empty.

Alone in the world and not a soul to call her own, she flees into the forest and lives there until she is found by a fortune teller who tells her that she is his salvation, that she has the gift. Soon, Patricia is caught in a downward spiral, both in the past and in the present. Patricia knows that if she is to solve the mystery of the present, missing suitcase and all, she must also solve the mysteries of her past.

For it is in the past that the answers for the future are to be found. This is an incredible novel. From start to finish it is told with beautiful language and even more beautiful imagery that makes Patricia’s wartime world come to life. Azzopardi is a magician with words, evoking pictures, visions, emotions and feelings from the depths of compassion.

“Remember Me” is so beautifully written, I was in awe while I was reading. Patricia is also a likeable character. As you get to know her, Patricia becomes more than a homeless woman, more than a squatter in an abandoned England home.

The characters are alive in this book and they will haunt you afterwards. Patricia may be the unluckiest person in fiction that I have ever read about; but even though this book may be a little bit depressing, it’s more than worth the read.

What I admired most about this novel as the story of Patricia and Azzopardi’s ability to convey human suffering and make it so horrible yet so beautiful at the same time. She reaches into the consciousness of her heroine and makes her more than a two dimensional character. After reading “Remember Me” I thought of all the homeless people I pass every day and wondered if their lives hold the same tragedy.

This is a heartbreaking novel, but an amazing one. It really serves to drive home the idea that all is not what it seems. That, unless we are willing to go beneath the surface, we will never really know the whole story behind someone’s life. Written with ease and beauty, “Remember Me” is an incredible achievement. I will be haunted by it for some time.

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